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Online Registration Renewal Now Open For Optometrists PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Online renewal of registration to practise in Australia is now open for optometrists. About 4,700 optometrists who are due to renew their general or non-practising registration with the Optometry Board of Australia (the Board) by 30 November can submit an online application now. Under the National Law , all registered health practitioners are responsible for renewing their registration on time each year. Last year more than 96.3 per cent of all health practitioner registration renewals due by 30 November (12 professions) were submitted online. An increase of 6.3 per cent.

"Online renewal is quick and easy and it's fantastic to see an annual increase in the number of optometrists using this secure service", Optometry Board Chair Colin Waldron said. The Board announced last month that it had reduced the registration fee for the registration period from 1 December 2014 to 30 November 2015 to $365. Fees can be confirmed on the Board's website. The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme is funded by practitioners' registration fees and there is no cross subsidisation between professions. A series of reminders to renew are being sent to practitioners with a registered email address by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), on behalf of the Board. The reminders include a link to online renewal.

Mr Waldron said optometrists whose contact details had not changed did not need to do anything. However, he urged others to act soon if they had not provided AHPRA with updated information. ‘Make sure AHPRA has your current contact information so you don’t miss future email and hard copy reminders to renew,’ he said. ‘Registering your email address also means you won’t miss important regulatory updates from the Board.’ Mr Waldron reminded optometrists to carefully read the Board’s registration standards which specify the requirements for practice. ‘You could be asked to provide information in support of your declarations so it’s important to know what the requirements are for registration to practise before you apply.’

 
Centre for Eye Research Australia Opens Automated Stem Cell Facility PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 19 September 2014

The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) has opened this week the Automated Stem Cell Facility and brought Australia's unique new stem cell robot to life. CERA purchased the automated system after a generous donation from Peter and Joan Clemenger who are passionate in their support for eye research.

Using adult stem cells, sourced from the skin cells of patients, CERA researchers produce eye cells for disease modelling which allow for new drug therapies to be developed. The automated system can tirelessly maintain the stem cells required for the study of macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other eye diseases leading to vision loss.

 
Vision Australia Provides Innovative Online Book Player to Visually Impaired PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Although she has very poor vision, thanks to an innovative Online talking book player developed by Vision Australia, Lesley McEwan, 60 from Willoughby reads more than sixteen books per month. Lesley has poor sight due to cataracts. An operation to remove the cataract on her left eye left her vision foggy and she has a cataract on her right eye. She also has type-two diabetes and a heart condition that limits her mobility.

"I really enjoy receiving audio books from Vision Australia. With the new player, I just have to call and they are automatically downloaded. It is much faster than waiting to receive CD’s in the mail," says Leslie.

The Online player was developed by Vision Australia to assist people with a print disability who do not have the capability or confidence to access online content. It involves bundling 3G (wireless broadband) internet technology into existing (DAISY) players that people are already familiar with. The player connects directly to Vision Australia’s i-access© online library to access the wide range of books, newspapers, magazines and other topical information. The device is simple to use and the user does not need their own computer or internet connection.

"With the majority of our clients being older and with difficulties accessing content on the internet, we needed to develop a solution that would provide online access to a greater variety of information in a user friendly and effective way," says Andrew Furlong, Technology Support Manager at the Vision Australia Library. "The 3G solution means that people can now get information immediately wherever they are on a device they are happy to use," he added.

The Online audio book player will be demonstrated at Vision Australia’s Texpo exhibition in October. Texpo showcases a range of Vision Australia services, including Seeing Eye Dogs, and the latest adaptive technology designed to assist people with vision impairments to live the lives they choose. It is a free event, which is open to the general public, people who are blind or have low vision, their friends and family, and industry professionals.

 
NSW Spectacles Program Successfully Relaunched PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Over 4,500 applications for spectacles have been received following Vision Australia’s relaunch of the NSW Spectacles Program in July 2014.

Vision Australia’s new delivery approach streamlines the application process, provides greater information and resources to optometrists/dispensers and improves delivery times to recipients of glasses.

Kyriacos Mavrolefteros a Maroubra based optometrist who also delivers services in remote NSW, identifies two big advantages to the new approach.

“After trialling the new system, the biggest benefit is being able get an immediate response on a patient’s eligibility. The online form only takes around three to four minutes to complete and the response comes through straight away,” says Mr Mavrolefteros.

“I also like being able to process orders directly with my suppliers,” says Mr Mavrolefteros. “Instead of waiting up to four weeks, patients receive their spectacles within a week. It is much more efficient.”

Mr Mavrolefteros, who has been involved with the NSW Spectacles Program for around 20 years, processes around 400 applications for spectacles annually, 200 of which are for patients living in regional and remote areas.

“Susie, from Vision Australia came out to my clinic to train two of my staff on how to use the new online system. She also assisted us to process a backlog of applications,” he said. “Vision Australia has been very helpful throughout the transition,” he added.

Michael Christensen from The Optical shop in Campbelltown says it gives him a new avenue for sale stock.

“For the first time, there is another option to turn over last season’s premium stock. Instead of having a sale, I can use older frames for the program,” he said.

Like Mr Mavrolefteros, Mr Christensen also felt that he was able to offer a faster service to his patients.

“Because I fit the lenses to the fames on site, patients receive their glasses in a matter of days not months. The remuneration is far better and the online form is quick and easy to use,” he said.

“I understand that the administration of the scheme is an evolutionary process, and I have been impressed with Vision Australia’s ability to resolve issues quickly,” said Mr Christensen.

The NSW Spectacles Program provides Government funded glasses and vision aids to eligible people including the elderly, children, people experiencing homelessness, those living in rural and remote areas, people with disability and Aboriginal and multicultural communities

 
AMA Calls For Regional Training Networks PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 05 September 2014

RegionalThe Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling on all Australian governments to collaborate on the creation of Regional Training Networks to maximise resources and expertise to produce a high level medical workforce in sufficient numbers to meet the future health needs of rural and regional Australian communities.

The AMA plan is detailed in the AMA Position Statement on Regional Training Networks which can be accessed at: ama.com.au/position-statement/regional-training-networks-2014.

AMA President, A/Prof Owler, said that medical workforce shortage is a major health issue, particularly for rural and regional Australia. "The overall distribution of doctors is skewed towards the major cities," A/Prof Owler said. "The available evidence shows that one of the most effective policy measures to address rural workforce shortages is the delivery of training in rural areas. If doctors have a good training experience in a rural area, they are more likely to stay. The AMA is promoting the establishment of regional training networks (RTNs) to bolster rural training opportunities, and to provide a valuable and meaningful career pathway for junior doctors who want to work in regional and rural Australia. Our plan would see the development of models for regionally-based specialist medical training that meets the needs of regional and rural communities. It is one part of a comprehensive set of policies needed to address regional and rural workforce shortages. The development of RTNs would help to promote careers in regional and rural centres and improve patient access to medical care. Many medical students have positive training experiences in rural areas, but prevocational and specialist medical training often requires a return to metropolitan centres. At this point in their lives, trainees develop personal and professional networks that are important to their future life and career path, and many are less likely to return to practise in rural areas. RTNs would enable junior doctors to spend a significant amount of their training in rural and regional areas, only returning to the city to gain specific skills. The AMA wants to build on the investment that has already been made in training medical students in regional centres, and expand that to trainee prevocational and specialist doctors. We currently recruit almost a quarter of medical students with rural backgrounds and almost a quarter of Australian medical students go through Rural Clinical Schools. We have the graduates - now we need effective training pathways to convert into them into a well-distributed workforce for the future," A/Prof Owler said.

 
Vision Eye Institute Reports Increased Revenue for FY14 PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 01 September 2014

Vision Eye InstituteVision Eye Institute, Australia's largest provider of ophthalmic care, reported revenue up 3.3% from FY13 due to an increase in theatre procedures (day surgery revenue has increase $2.4 million 6.7%) . Gross Margin was down 1.8% due to contract doctor payments increasing $2.6 million (13.9%) from FY13. The increase is from additional doctors and the continuing rebalance of clinic profit share with partner doctors. There were no significant variances in Indirect costs, with the exception of legal costs, $2.0 m incurred during FY14 (FY13 $0.7 million). EBITDA declined $1.2 million due to lower margin and considerable legal costs incurred during FY14.

The theatre (day surgery) increase of $2.4 million (6.7%) was due to volume growth in Victoria and Queensland. In Victoria new partner doctors, as well as improvements in existing doctor capacity, were able to meet the increasing demand for ophthalmic procedures. In Queensland, volumes increased from a doctor absence in the FY13 year, offset slightly by lower volumes at Short Street Day Surgery where profit share declined. Consulting and Surgical revenue increased $1.3 million (2.1%) due to the volumes generated by the new partner doctors and capacity improvements in Victoria. Refractive laser volumes remained stable with minimal or no fee increases in place. We have noted a small increase in non-laser refractive procedures for the over 55s population, which are included in consulting and surgical volumes. 

NSW revenue declined slightly with minimal fee increases and a reduction in doctor work hours which resulted in a lower volume of procedures. Revenue for Victoria increased $3.0 million due mainly to the volumes achieved by the introduction of new doctor partners. Queensland revenue increase reflects the increase in surgical volumes in Brisbane from visiting surgeons and after a doctor absence in FY13, which was offset by a reduction in revenue on the Gold Coast due to a decline in volumes generated by partner doctors.

 
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